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|Rodney McGruder went home for Memorial Day weekend http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-avonte-maddox-jersey , for reasons that didn’t include barbecues and beach time.
He paid tribute to people he never met.
The Miami Heat guard was part of an NBA contingent that volunteered to spend time in the Washington area with about 500 children who are part of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – TAPS, for short – over the solemn holiday weekend, trying to help continue the support for families who lost loved ones serving in the military.
The itinerary included tours of the Pentagon, a Jr. NBA clinic, roundtable discussions, mentoring sessions, grief counseling and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to meet some of the service members who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier around the clock. Those guards walk 21 steps in one direction, turn and face the tomb for 21 seconds, and then walk 21 steps in the other direction and repeat the process.
”We learned so much about the 21 steps, protecting the Unknown Soldier tomb, so just being there and seeing the detail that they have at their job, much respect to them http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kenny-young-jersey ,” said McGruder, whose Maryland home is only about 20 minutes from Arlington. ”It was breathtaking just seeing all the different stones. It was tough. It was tough.”
New York Knicks guard Jarrett Jack – a military kid growing up – also helped represent the NBA during the weekend events, along with Dallas assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, Sacramento assistant Bryan Gates, Portland assistant David Vanterpool and retired WNBA player Iciss Tillis. Leading the group was Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who now works as an adviser to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
”I’m very proud of the way the NBA has reached out to military servicemen and women and how that has expanded to what we’re doing here this weekend, which is outreach to the survivors of the fallen,” Dempsey said. ”It’s fantastic. What happens is we can’t take away the grief and the memory of the loss, but what we can do is layer positive memories on top of it. And so these athletes and coaches being involved, it’s amazing.”
The kids who were part of the weekend played in a basketball clinic, but most of the questions to the NBA players and coaches had nothing to do with the game.
McGruder said many wanted to know how he’s dealt with loss – not on the basketball court – and how he copes.
”You realize right away that these kids are going through some pretty tough things,” McGruder said. ”One of the toughest questions came from a tough female who wanted to know if I’ve gone through something like that. I explained to her that my mother lost her mother very young Josh Allen Color Rush Jersey , so it’s not really the same but you share how you’ve been through similar disadvantages.”
McGruder said he came away with a deeper appreciation of what Memorial Day means, and Dempsey – a lifelong fan of the game and someone who Mike Krzyzewski used during his tenure as coach of the U.S. national team to teach the game’s biggest stars about what it means to represent the country – thinks the NBA players have an important message for kids on weekends like this.
”I think with the country kind of more connected technologically than ever before, but maybe pulling itself apart more than ever before, I think sports have a huge role to play to bring a bit of leadership and maybe conscience,” Dempsey said. ”I’m proud to be part of that.”
LeBron James has mastered the first-round knockout.
Better protect those chins, Pacers.
One of the most dominant postseason players in NBA history, James is undefeated in Game 1 of any opening series, a perfect 12-0 since making his playoff debut with the Cavaliers back in 2006.
James is a ridiculous 48-7 overall in the first round with seven sweeps, and his teams in Miami and Cleveland have ripped off 21 consecutive opening-round victories, a winning streak that stretches to 2012 in his second season with the Heat. Since rejoining the Cavs in 2015, he’s 12-0 in Round 1.
Facing him means an early exit.
But while all those overbearing facts would seem to give Cleveland a huge advantage against Indiana in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference series that starts Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena, James isn’t taking the Pacers lightly. They beat the Cavs three times during the regular season and guard Victor Oladipo and Co. have enough talent to maybe upset the No. 4 seed.
”It’s going to be a very good matchup Will Hernandez Color Rush Jersey ,” James said Saturday. ”It’s 4-5 for a reason. Both teams played good ball at times throughout the regular season. Obviously their season, from the outside looking in, was more productive than ours because of what they went through in the offseason. But we went through a lot in the offseason as well. It’s a good matchup and we look forward to the challenge.”
Following a regular season that went up, down and sideways for the Cavs, the postseason has finally arrived. It’s when James shines most.
The 33-year-old is aiming to make his eighth straight Finals, a feat only accomplished by a handful of Boston Celtics in the 1960s. The three-time champ is coming off perhaps his finest regular season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be at his best in April, May and probably June.
”LeBron is a freak of his own,” said Oladipo, who has blossomed in his first year with Indiana. ”He’s the best player in the world. You could give it (the MVP award) to him every year, but it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else.”
James wasn’t fair to the Pacers in last year’s playoffs. He averaged 32 points, nine rebounds Jordan Akins Color Rush Jersey , nine assists, three steals and two blocks as Cleveland swept Indiana en route to a third straight conference crown.
It’s hard to imagine it being that easy this year as the Pacers are a more well-balanced squad. In Oladipo they have a player capable of taking over a game, but James knows the ropes better than anyone this time of year.
”He definitely understands that, going to The Finals, that the quicker you can get a series over and get some rest is the best way to do it,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ”So our guys have to understand that we’re going to see the best (team) at their best.”
His teammates and opponents may change from year to year in the postseason. James stays the same.
”My responsibility has been the same for quite a while now,” he said. ”Go out and try to dominate.”
For the first time in four years, James won’t have Kyrie Irving by his side in the playoffs. With Irving gone, Kevin Love has become Cleveland’s second-most important player.
Although the Cavs aren’t the slam-dunk favorite as they’ve been in the past to win the East, Love is as confident as ever.
”I always feel like when we take the floor we’re going to win every game,” he said. ”I feel like we’re a really tough out. We’re going to be a tough team to beat in four games and we have the best player in the world and a lot of guys that are hungry to go out and prove what they can do.”
MYLES TO GO
Pacers big man Myles Turner struggled so badly down the stretch he asked McMillan to play him in the regular-season finale. It didn’t help.
Turner’s struggles continued as he went 1 of 8 from the field and finished with two points in 20 minutes. Turner is now 5 of 26 overall, 0 for 9 on 3-pointers. He had 11 rebounds in Indiana’s last four games. He’s grateful for a fresh start.
”They need me to come out and be the aggressive Myles Lamar Jackson Jersey Ravens , like I’ve done during a couple stretches this season,” he said. ”I need to score points, rebound and block shots.”
Lance Stephenson developed a reputation for getting under James’ skin during the Pacers-Heat rivalry. He’s still doing it.
Stephenson, perhaps best known for blowing in James’ ear during the 2014 conference finals, baited James into a technical foul earlier this year. This time, though, Stephenson claims he has no plans to rankle King James.
”He’s a tough player, he’s always challenging me,” Stephenson said. ”I think your mindset has to be to stop him and to want to win against him. Everybody in the league wants to beat him.”
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.